Lamentations 4:5
They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.
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(5) They that were brought up . . .—Literally, that were carried (as children are carried). “Scarlet” as in 2Samuel 1:24, stands for the shawls or garments of the rich, dyed, as they were, in the Tyrian purple or crimson. Those that had been once wrapped in such shawls now threw themselves, “embracing” them as their only refuge, on dunghills.

4:1-12 What a change is here! Sin tarnishes the beauty of the most exalted powers and the most excellent gifts; but that gold, tried in the fire, which Christ bestows, never will be taken from us; its outward appearance may be dimmed, but its real value can never be changed. The horrors of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem are again described. Beholding the sad consequences of sin in the church of old, let us seriously consider to what the same causes may justly bring down the church now. But, Lord, though we have gone from thee in rebellion, yet turn to us, and turn our hearts to thee, that we may fear thy name. Come to us, bless us with awakening, converting, renewing, confirming grace.They that were brought up in scarlet - literally, "those that were carried upon scarlet;" young children in arms and of the highest birth now lie on the dirt-heaps of the city. 5. delicately—on dainties.

are desolate—or, "perish."

in scarlet embrace dunghills—Instead of the scarlet couches on which the grandees were nursed, they must lie on dunghills.

embrace—They who once shrank sensitively from any soil, gladly cling close to heaps of filth as their only resting-place. Compare "embrace the rock" (Job 24:8).


This judgment reached not only to the common people, but to persons of the highest rank and order, whose misery was now so much the greater, because so contrary to their former splendid state and way of living. They were wont to fare deliciously; now they wanted bread to eat, and were desolate in the streets. They were wont to eat upon scarlet carpets, or to lodge upon scarlet beds and conches; now they searched for their meat upon, or were glad to lie upon, dunghills.

They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets,.... That were brought up in the king's palace, or in the houses of noblemen; or, however, born of parents rich and wealthy, and had been used to good living, and had fared sumptuously and deliciously every day, were now wandering about in the streets in the most forlorn and distressed condition, seeking for food of any sort, but could find none to satisfy their hunger; and so, as the Vulgate Latin version renders it, perished in the ways or streets:

they that were brought up in scarlet: in dyed garments, as Jarchi; clothed with scarlet coloured ones, as was the manner of the richer and better sort of people, Proverbs 31:21; or, "brought up upon scarlet" (o); upon scarlet carpets, on which they used to sit and eat their food, as is the custom of the eastern people to this day: these

embrace dunghills, are glad of them, and with the greatest eagerness rake into them, in order to find something to feed upon, though ever so base and vile; or to sit and lie down upon. Aben Ezra interprets it of their being cast here when dead, and there was none to bury them.

(o) "super coccinum", Pagninus, Montanus; "super coccino", Piscator, Michaelis.

They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.
5. delicately] luxuriously. Children are still the subject, and not, as has been suggested, rich persons. In the latter case we should have to render carried on scarlet (i.e. litters or couches furnished with costly stuffs of that colour), unduly forcing the sense of the Heb. verb.

desolate] See on ch. Lamentations 3:11.

embrace dunghills] for want of a better couch.

Verse 5. - They that did feed delicately, etc. i.e. luxuriously. The rendering has been disputed, but without sufficient ground. "They that did eat at dainties," i.e. pink at their dainty food, is forced. The Aramaic mark of the accusative need not surprise us in Lamentations (comp. Jeremiah 40:2). Brought up in scarlet; rather, borne upon scarlet; i.e. resting upon scarlet-covered couches. The poet speaks of adults, not of children. Lamentations 4:5Sucking infants and little children perish from thirst and hunger; cf. Lamentations 2:11-12. פּרשׂ equals פּרס, as in Micah 3:3, to break down into pieces, break bread equals divide, Isaiah 58:7; Jeremiah 16:7. In Lamentations 4:5 it is not children, but adults, that are spoken of. למעדנּים is variously rendered, since אכל occurs nowhere else in construction with ל. Against the assumption that ל is the Aramaic sign of the object, there stands the fact that אכל is not found thus construed with ל, either in the Lamentations or elsewhere, though in Jeremiah 40:2 ל is so used. Gerlach, accordingly, would take למעדנּים adverbially, as meaning "after their heart's desire," prop. for pleasures (as to this meaning, cf. Proverbs 29:17; 1 Samuel 15:32), in contrast with אכל לשׂבע, to eat for satisfaction, Exodus 16:3; Leviticus 25:19, etc. But "for pleasure" is not an appropriate antithesis to satisfaction. Hence we prefer, with Thenius, to take אכל ל in the sense of nibbling round something, in which there is contained the notion of selection in the eating; we also take מעדנּים, as in Genesis 49:20, to mean dainties. נשׁמּוּ, to be made desolate, as in Lamentations 1:13, of the destruction of happiness in life; with בּחוּצות, to sit in a troubled or gloomy state of mind on the streets. האמנים, those who (as children) were carried on purple (תּולע for שׁני rof תּו towla`at תּולעת, cochineal, crimson), embrace (i.e., cling to) dung-heaps, seek them as places or rest.
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